Thursday, 11 April 2019

Toybox REVIEW: S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X


Release Date: March 2019 
RRP: 6264 yen

Despite still arguably taking up the majority of the S.H. Figuarts line's tokusatsu slots, Kamen Rider releases have become a lot less predictable than they were a few years ago. It's April 2019, and the final forms for the titular Riders from the last three years are still surprisingly absent. However you can always rely on Bandai Tamashii Nations to throw out a few surprises, and with Kamen Rider Ex-Aid's popularity still going strong one of their latest ones was S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy Toki Meki Crisis Gamer Level X. Poppy Pipopapo's well-deserved ascent to Rider status was a very popular move by the series, however despite her being a main character she didn't transform nearly enough as she should have. But getting a Figuarts release is still more than Ex-Aid Hyper Muteki has achieved so far, even if it is a Tamashii web exclusive.



Kamen Rider Poppy uses the same general box design that's been used across all of the Kamen Rider Ex-Aid Figuarts, using a vibrant pink to go alongside the standard black colouring used on the front. The grid-like squares are a common trait across all the boxes, but the pixelated hearts are unique to Poppy's and a really nice touch. In addition to all the usual Kamen Rider and Bandai Tamashii Nations logos, the box also features the holofoil "Tamashii Nations Quality" sticker that all current releases have to confirm that they're an authentic product. On the back of the box you'll find a handful of product images showing the figure off in various poses, and then inside are the figure and her accessories neatly stored on a single clamshell tray. 




Kamen Rider Poppy is a completely unique design among the Ex-Aid Riders. Not only is she the only Rider that has a distinctly feminine body type, but she also lacks key design elements such as the health bar chest plate. Even the shared traits, such as the sneaker style boots or silver shin guards, have been shrunken down here to fit the smaller body. But not only is she a unique figure in terms of design and mould, she also just looks excellent. The seemingly gaudy mix of black, gold, silver, white and pink (both in glossy and metallic shades) come together beautifully, with the added blues from the eyes and Driver adding even more vibrancy. The idea of a dating sim Rider is pretty far out even for Ex-Aid but Poppy's design just sells the motif so damn well, from the hearts on the headband and shoulders to the bow-shaped canister on the back of the "dress". But possibly what really sells the moulding most of all here are the bits of fabric wrinkling they've done on the chest and legs. It isn't a lot, but it's that element that takes the figure from simply looking like a toy to looking like a miniature version of the suit itself.





Although it uses a completely different body, Poppy doesn't lose any of the high quality articulation that made the other Ex-Aid figures so damn good. Altogether she features a ball jointed head and neck section, ball-hinge shoulders, bicep swivels, double hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, ball jointed torso and waist sections, ball jointed hips, upper leg swivels, double hinge knees, ball-hinge ankle rockers and finally a hinged toe-cap for additional balance. As far as the additional armour is concerned, the shoulder pads are on raised ball joints and each side of the skirt is connected via a hinge joint. The latter might does a pretty good job for the most part, but when you raise the legs up nearly 90 degrees and the skirt pieces just hang there it does show itself as a bit of an antiquated way of going about it. That aside though this is a really expressive figure, which doesn't just suit her from an action pose perspective but also all the fancy idol poses she needs to be able to pull off. 





Kamen Rider Poppy comes packaged with six additional hands and a weaponised version of her Buggle Driver Zwei, which without the Bugster Buckle part is known as the Gashacon Bugvisor Zwei. As this gauntlet weapon can switch between chainsaw and beam gun modes, the accessory itself also includes an alternate piece that offers better proportions when being used in the latter mode. On the subject of proportions, the Gashacon Bugvisor Zwei gamepad piece is considerably larger than the Buggle Driver one for this exact reason. The Bugvisor piece has previously been released with both Kamen Rider Genm Level 0 and Kamen Rider Cronus, and is a vibrantly painted accessory that isn't just nicely moulded but also fits into the figure's hands perfectly. Now this might seem like a perfectly fine set of accessories for a suit used as little as Poppy, but there is one glaring omission here that brings the whole figure down. When Kamen Rider Poppy was first introduced into the series she acted as the navigator for Kamen Rider Chronicle, with her brainwashed state signified by red eyes. This release completely omits that red eyed version, opting solely for the blue eyes she adopts once she rejoined the CR. It wouldn't have been much effort at all for Bandai to throw in a second head here, especially since it represents such a huge moment for the character in-series. Once upon a time there was a chance an alternate head could come with a later release (much like OOO's purple-eyed head came with the Eiji Greed), but since there are likely to be less and less Ex-Aid Figuarts going forward it's fair to say that not including an alternate head is just a wasted opportunity.


As with the previous Ex-Aid Figuarts Poppy also comes with a removable Gashat inserted into her Buggle Driver Zwei, which despite lacking a Toki Meki Crisis decal has been rather nicely done up in the correct pink and white colours. The lack of a decal is the least of the Gashat's inaccuracies though, since like the previous releases is has a shortened cartridge section and thus doesn't work that well as an accessory outside of the Driver. Rather annoyingly the Gashat doesn't fit into the Gashacon Bugvisor Zwei accessory either, which immediately rules out any accurate Critical Strike poses. While the two pieces being incompatible makes sense because of the size difference, there's no reason why Bandai couldn’t have just made an extra in-scale Gashat to go with this – especially since Figuarts Kuroto came with not only larger ones, but ones that also had the correct cartridge length. A minor quibble yet, but another example of Bandai doing the bare minimum with this release when they didn’t really need to do much to make it perfect.




Given how criminally underused she was in the series we should probably be grateful that S.H. Figuarts Kamen Rider Poppy got made at all, but unfortunately no matter how good the figure itself is you can't help but feel there's wasted potential here. The red eyes evil Poppy was such a big moment in the series (not to mention the form's actual debut) that including an extra head should have been a no-brainer, yet the fact it isn't here just shows how stingy Bandai have gotten with Rider accessories in recent years. It's a sad day when the cheap candy toy version can include it as an alternative (even if it is just a sticker), but the Premium Bandai collectors' action figure can't. Still accessory woes aside, Kamen Rider Poppy is a really great figure and in terms of sculpt and articulation a lot better than people will probably give her credit for. With Ex-Aid releases probably grounding to a halt very soon, this is a very good release to round out your collection with.

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